Thanks to Inky and his jazz-rock vision, I am being drawn back to Electric Ladyland, a Jimi Hendrix Experience. I was exposed to Hendrix as far back as my junior high school years from Mr. Hilt who was my favorite art teacher. Twice a week, I was looking forward to his class so I could just paint and enjoy Hendrix. I didn’t know what the heck I was listening to, but at least the music that came out of his stereo system was not as excessively loud (even though he played at a high volume for a classroom) as other rock shit I couldn’t stand. With Hendrix, I could hear what he was strumming without going deaf, and his virtuoso improvisations were rich and colorful, not just a bunch of white noises screeching up my eardrums.
After hearing his melodic invention on “Voodoo Chile,” I could figure out where Miles Davis got his inspiration for his fusion. In the album liner notes, Derek Taylor quoted what Davis had to say about Hendrix: “He had a natural ear for hearing music… it was great. He influenced me and I influenced him and that’s the way great music is always made. Everybody’s showing somebody something and then moving on from there… Jimi Hendrix came from the blues, like me. We understood each other right away… he was a great blues guitarist.” In the jazz-inflected “Rainy Day, Dream Away,” Hendrix’s riff works along with Freddie Smith’s horn and Mike Finnigan’s organ to create a thought-provoking interaction.
While the psychedelic intro, “…And The Gods Made Love,” gives us a hint of what we are about to enter, the powerful-closer “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” lets us know that the experience will live on after the music stops, or the heartbeat stops—”If I don’t meet you no more in this world, then I’ll meet you in the next one, and don’t be late, don’t be late.” Hendrix crooned. Almost forty years later, the album still rocks!